The Sky Bet Championship weekend begins at Kenilworth Road on Friday night when the two losing play-off semi-finalists of last season meet as Luton Town play host to Sheffield United in arguably the standout match of the round.
Sheffield United head to Bedfordshire on top of the table and have the chance to scoot clear at the summit. Luton picked up a first win of the campaign last weekend and will be out to build on that in this contest.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Football channels with the build-up beginning at Kenilworth Road at 7.30pm and kick off coming at 8pm.
When you consider the fantastic season that Luton Town had last term, it is slightly surprising that they have stumbled out of the starting gate this time around, although we shouldn’t be surprised because we see teams have a play-off hangover all the time. They finally got off the mark last week when for the first time this campaign they resembled the team which finished sixth last season. That feels like an important moment in their year.
Last week was also the first time that Luton have scored more than once in the league this season and the fact new signing Carlton Morris got off the mark for his new club was certainly welcome. Luton had a lot of injuries to contend with in those opening weeks of the campaign but slowly but surely players are starting to return and we can expect Nathan Jones’ charges to pick up speed when they do. In this match they have home advantage which is as strong as anywhere in the division.
When you consider how agonising the end to last season was for Sheffield United they deserve an immense amount of credit for the way they have begun this one. They have picked up 10 points from their opening five matches and sit on top of the table in a season that is extremely important to them. The Blades blew the chance of an immediate return to the Premier League and will know how crucial it is to get back there at the second time of asking.
Sheffield United head to Kenilworth Road as the leading scorers in the league despite the absence of one of their leading marksmen in Billy Sharp. The concern over them comes in the form of their away record which wasn’t the best last season and hasn’t started particularly well this term. Nine of their 10 points have come at Bramall Lane with a draw and a defeat in their two away matches this season. On that evidence they might be a little on the short side.
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Luton boss Nathan Jones has suggested that he will have new signing Alfie Doughty available for the first time this season. Harry Cornick has also returned from injury to feature in the game but Sonny Bradley remains a doubt and Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu and Henri Lansbury remain out.
Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom has confirmed that Ben Osborn and Billy Sharp remain on the sidelines but he expects John Fleck and Iliman Ndiaye to be fit despite them picking up knocks last time out.
There isn’t such a thing as an easy Championship match to bet on but I certainly don’t think this is one of the easier. Sheffield United are top of the league and look to be in a good shape but they haven’t won on the road yet this season. Kenilworth Road is one of the harder places to go in the league, especially under lights, but Luton are only just hitting their straps and probably need another strong performance to convince everyone they are where they want to be.
That sends me to the side markets for a bet where I think the 9/5 on Luke Freeman having a shot on target is way too big. He seems to be priced up as a wing-back or a defensive midfielder but he’ll play the number 10 role for the Hatters in this match and might well have the bit between his teeth here given that he was released by Sheffield United in the summer. He certainly might have a point to prove. Freeman has only hit the target once this season but Luton struggled in the early part of the campaign and will likely have enough of the game for him to be involved here. Sheffield United’s defence is likely to be kept busy by Elijah Adebayo and whoever partners him and picking up the second balls around there will be Freeman. He has a wand of a left peg and the price on him unleashing something that hits the target looks too big to me.
Back L.Freeman to have a shot on target for a 3/10 stake at 2.80 with Paddy Power